In Does Rock 'N' Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz a grizzled artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: Maxïmo Park frontman Paul Smith
1: For what unusual reason is Jonathan Quearney thanked in the liner notes to Maxïmo Park’s third album ‘Quicken The Heart’?
“I know this one! Jonathan Quearney is a tailor who created three bespoke suits for me for the ‘Quicken The Heart’ tours, which had to be reinforced in certain places because of my onstage activities – and I’ll say no more!”
CORRECT. He reinforced the crotch area of your suits to ensure they don’t split while you’re scissor-kicking onstage. Ever had an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction?
“I’ve had a few rips. My latest suit is by Paul Smith because I’m a cheesy idiot who thought it would be funny! It split onstage in Oxford last year when I was jumping, and people down the front were smirking and whispering to each other. It was lucky because the dressing room was close to the stage so I managed to get through to the end of the song, just very static throughout. The first song off our last album ‘Risk To Exist’ is ‘What Did We Do To You To Deserve This?’, which has a long intro you can spin out. I said to the audience: ‘You can dance along to this and I’ve got to go and change my trousers’, and came back on saying ‘Nothing happened!’. It worked well – it was almost as if I’d planned it as a costume change!”
2: How did guitarist Duncan Lloyd break his arm in 2006?
“I know this as well! I had already gone to bed so I did not witness it and I’m pretty glad I didn’t because it sounded horrific. He was arm-wrestling our lawyer.”
“It snapped up at the top in the bicep region. It was an unusual kind of break, which the hospital doctor said often happens with arm-wrestling. It almost ruined our meagre career! We almost had to give up because after the first operation, the tendons in his arms went haywire. He had some nerve damage and couldn’t play the guitar for ages. He’d played the guitar recording the second album, ‘Our Earthly Pleasures’, but had used an interesting technique to get around the pain barrier. But when it came to playing live, we didn’t know if he could do it and we were relieved when all was well eventually.”
3: Who did you share the bill with on the NME Awards Tour in 2006?
“Arctic Monkeys, Mystery Jets and We Are Scientists.”
“It was a strange tour because we were headlining as the Arctic Monkeys were becoming the best selling band in the universe (Laughs). It meant that people were coming along saying: ‘Well, why are these guys headlining?’. Every night we would demonstrate exactly why so I enjoyed the gauntlet being thrown down by circumstance.”
4: When The Rakes frontman Alan Donohoe got sick, the band played at Reading/Leeds festival 2005 with different singers. You were one of them. Can you name the others?
“Ooh, this is tricky because that was all a complete blur. But I remember the Towers Of London were there, Kele from Bloc Party and…was Eddie from Art Brut there?”
5: ‘Graffiti contains the lyrics ‘I’ll do graffiti if you sing to me in French’. What chart number did the attendant album ‘A Certain Trigger’ reach in France?
“In France?! Wow! It can’t have been very high (Laughs). Our audience in France has diminished somewhat. I’m going to go for 82.”
WRONG. It was 102.
“Oh man, I was going to go outside 100, but I got really confident there for a minute!”
For a bonus half-point, can you identify the following Maximo Park track from these lyrics – ‘J’aime attendre pour voir comment ça se passe/Si vous appliquez une pression/J’aime attendre et voir comment ça se passe/Si vous appliquez une pression’?
“(Laughs) I’m inclined to say that’s ‘Apply Some Pressure’”
“There you go – my GCSE French came back to me there!”
6: You once designed your own limited-edition bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale. Who was the only celebrity prior to Maxïmo Park to receive this honour?
“Newcastle’s own Alan Shearer”.
“I was proud because it’s a bit of fun and you can show off to people in the pub and say ‘Look I’m on a beer bottle!’. It’s kind of silly, but it was because we were playing Newcastle Arena doing our biggest hometown show – and everybody in the city has drank at least one bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale. We sent it off to our record label, Warp, and the designer cobbled together these five silhouettes of us and actually made it look like us on a very tiny beer bottle. I was very impressed by the design and we actually utilised it on T-shirts.”
7: What halted the song ‘Our Velocity’ during a gig in Wolverhampton in 2007?
“Again, I will never forget! I had food poisoning and I couldn’t even tie my own tie before I went on. I was so weak. I couldn’t get up. But I had some Lucozade – probably wrongly! I have no idea what happened. I was in a weird trance before I went on but our tour manager helped me on to the stage, and I had a bin to the side of the stage. Unfortunately, I had to go and use that bin during ‘Our Velocity’. But I came back on and finished it and played a couple more songs before collapsing offstage. So yeah, vomit was the reason.”
8: You covered The Fall track ‘Edinburgh Man’. What did you rename it?
“We renamed it ‘Middlesbrough Man’ because I am from near Middlesbrough and that just about works with ‘Edinburgh Man’.”
CORRECT. Did you receive any feedback from Mark E Smith before he passed away?
“Absolutely none and that’s probably for the best.”
9: You once listed Jet from Gladiators as your all-time favourite Teesider. What’s her civilian name?
“Ooh that’s got to be Diane Youdale.”
“It’s easy for me to remember because my headteacher at school was also called Youdale. It’s not because I’m a Jet stalker! I’m not stalking you, Diane. Our paths haven’t crossed yet but there will inevitably be some sort of Billingham-related event with me, her and Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell – who’s also from there – where we all go and switch on the Christmas lights, so I’m just waiting for that invitation.”
10: This Is England’s Thomas Turgoose stars in the ‘Hips And Lips’ video as a crazed fan. Can you name two other films he’s appeared in?
“Um….I saw him in a film about the King’s Cross St Pancras area. I can’t remember what it’s called. It was really good and was shot in black and white. My brain has given up! Oh, it’s coming to me….it’s nearly there…oh hang on, it’s only one and I can’t think of another.”
WRONG. You were thinking of Somers Town. Among others, you could have also had Eden Lake, Kingsman: The Golden Circle and Terminal. Ever had an unusual fan encounter?
“We were given some robotic pandas in Japan which were pretty scary things because the batteries were running down so their movements were very erratic, so they looked like they’d kill you in your sleep. Somebody once stole my tie from the dressing room and we had to put out an appeal on social media to get it back.”
The verdict: 8.5/10
“Blimmin’ heck – I’ve lost less braincells than I thought!”
Maxïmo Park release ‘As Long As We Keep Moving’, their new live-in-the-studio film and album on March 1. Paul Smith’s solo album ‘Diagrams’ is out now